STATEHOUSE - The 2011 legislative session has been a session of historic challenges and historic accomplishments. Despite the many road bumps, House Republicans have delivered on the promises they made in 2010.
State Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) along with other House Republican legislators presented the 'Strengthen Indiana Plan' in Sept. of 2010. Unlike many political pledges, everything that was promised in 2010 was successfully delivered through legislative action this year.
"It's been a difficult session, but I'm pleased with what we were able to accomplish," said Rep. Clere. "We've delivered on what we promised. In addition to balancing the budget without raising taxes, we passed numerous measures aimed at creating jobs. We made education a top priority, including a modest funding increase for K-12 public schools, expansion of full-day kindergarten and more money for need-based college scholarships."
Protecting Hoosier Taxpayers
House Republicans have repeatedly pledged to enact a responsible state budget, which meets the state's critical needs with no tax increases. With a fiscally sound budget, comes predictability for both Hoosier taxpayers and Hoosier businesses.
This session, House Republicans were able to pass a fiscally-responsible budget that does not raise taxes and retains adequate reserves to protect Hoosier taxpayers.
In addition, Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), Senator David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and Governor Daniels announced this session that an additional $150 million will be directed to K-12 education. This announcement came after an updated revenue forecast showed Indiana receiving more than what was projected under prior forecasts.
The increased revenues, in addition to prudent reserve balances, prove that the disciplined financial efforts by House Republicans in the General Assembly and the governor are paying off for the State of Indiana.
Promoting Hoosier Job Creation
The Strengthen Indiana Plan focused on key elements that promote job creation and incentivize employers to grow and relocate to Indiana. Start-up capital for budding businesses has now become more accessible by enhancing the Venture Capital Investment tax credit.
House Republicans have also made improvements to the Industrial Recovery Tax Credit to incentivize employers to help revitalize hard-hit communities that have empty factories and warehouses sitting idle.
In addition to economic incentives, House Republicans also made it easier for businesses to start up through legislation that will create a 'one-stop-shop'-cutting the unnecessary red tape that will make creating a business more accessible to future employers.
Expanding Education Opportunities
House Republicans pledged to give families more choices for their students' education, regardless of income or zip code. They have fulfilled their promise by expanding educational opportunities for Hoosier families, especially those of limited means.
Charter Schools were first authorized in Indiana in 2001 and in the 2011 session, House Republicans passed legislation to allow additional charter schools without further obstacles and provide innovative options to public school students.
In addition, legislation was passed to provide high school students who graduate early with a scholarship-as long as they attend an accredited university to further their education-to pay for tuition fees. House Republicans also passed legislation to reward high-performing teachers with merit pay.
In regards to the school funding formula, House Republicans demonstrated their commitment to education by focusing every additional dollar on the classroom. The school funding formula will now have dollars following the child-not the institution-and not wait two or three years for dollars to follow the child.
"This session has been challenging, perhaps more so than any session in memory. Change is never easy-this is no less true for legislative bodies. We have made landmark legislative decisions that will positively affect issues our state has faced so our children and their children will have a better future here in Indiana. I can proudly say that House Republicans have fulfilled their promises and enacted legislation that will significantly strengthen Indiana," said Speaker Bosma.